tv America Tonight Al Jazeera October 3, 2015 2:30am-3:01am EDT
>> on america tonight, shooting lessons. >> is that andy warhol right there? >> yes. >> a typical andy, john lenin, yoko ohno party of that period, where all of their different artists come together at some place. >> a glimpse into the real lives of stars we hardly knew. captured by a rare paster -- master and insider with his own amazing tale. also tonight, what's bugging you. 12 million americans are
infected with diseases they can't even pronounce. >> hook worm infection and it's elephanttiasis. ache say them faster than anybody. >> and incredibly enough, most don't even know they have these diseases. america tonight's michael oku on the trail of the killers. thanks for joining us. i'm joie chen. it's the stuff of nightmares, blood suckers, tape worms, killer parasites. millions of americans may be sickened by them and may not even know it. a group of diseases flying below the radar virtually unknown, even by most doctors in this country that could be behind everything from mental retardation to sudden death. america tonight's michael oku now with a startling look at the diseases among us. >> martin regna is on the move, trying to corral killers
roaming around houston. >> we are on our way. we will be there in around 15 minutes. >> this is what he's looking for, mosquitoes, culprits behind a growing public health crisis. mosquitoes are now testing positive for tropical diseases which are spreading across america. regna and his crew are on the front line, fighting back. and they have their hands full. >> we are trying to keep them alive until we get back to the lab. >> houston is now one of the world's top ten hot zones for tropical diseases. that's why regna is out every day, checking some of the county's 268 mosquito traps. >> why are these mosquitoes enemy number one for you? >> because they are the ones that cause these illnesses -- >> and these illnesses are serious? >> they are serious. >> illnesses you are more likely to associate with sub-saharan african.
>> hook worm, river blindness, chaagis disease. >> these are names that most people could barely pronounce and let alone have know what they do? >> that's exactly. all the bottom billion. the people who live on no one has one of these neglected tropical diseases. including 12 million americans, nearly all unconscioused. according to baylor college's dr. hotak. neglected because there's so little research being done on them, and no fda approved medicines or vaccines. >> i thought when we started finding the tropical diseases the year after i moved here in houston and texas, i thought, wow, people will really care about this issue. it was just the opposite. nobody cared. >> why? because most victims are poor. not exactly the ideal demographic for big pharma says
dr. hotas. he showed us why some impoverished areas in america, like this one in houston are breeding grounds for neglected tropical diseases. >> on the right-hand side is piles of discarded tires. >> stray dogs, run down homes, broken windows, haven for disease-carrying bugs. what you will see are these big drainage ditches that fill up with water. these provide perfect breeding grounds. >> while they are considered diseases of poverty, they are also perceived as an immigrant problem. and that needs to change says dr. hotas. >> we've got to get over this mentality that these are not diseases that are coming across our southern border. they are for the most part diseases where we are having transmission here in the united states. >> case in point, candice stark, born and raised in texas. >> i did not live in a mud hut. i live right here in texas.
i grew up in a brick home. i don't live in poverty. i have never even been on a cruise, so i have never left and went to another country. >> and yet. >> i have chaugis. >> it can go undetected for decades. two years ago, stark happened to learn she had it after donating blood. >> what did the doctors tell you? >> well, that's kind of hard because the doctors don't tell me nothing. the doctors here in texas do not know what chaggis is. i went to an infectious disease doctor for my medication. he had never treated anybody with the disease. >> the doctor had never treated anybody with this condition? >> no. no. >> stark doesn't know when she got it but she knows how. >> you know that you must have come in contact with some kind of so-called kissing bug?
>> that's right. that's right. >> sometimes a kiss isn't just a witness. >> no, it's not. this is a deadly kiss. >> typically found in most of latin america. kissing bugs are popping up in the u.s. and spreading chaggis. the cdc estimates 300,000 people in the u.s. have the disease. a number considered to be grossly under estimated by dr. hotas' team at baylor. here they are studying the bugs as part of research into chaggis. >> it's huge. imagine that being on your face at night while you sleep. it can bite close to your lips. >> is that where it tries to go? >> it tries to go to your lip. >> yes, that's why it's called a kissing bug. >> the bug carries parasites, and the fast twitching objects that you see that enter the bloodstream and eat the cell surrounding the heart. the third of the victims will develop heart disease. this is a house heart -- mouse
heart with chaggis. >> this is not a rare disease. 9.4 million living in poverty have chaggis disease. >> frustrated by the lack after tension that these diseases get, hotas developed the school of tropical medicine at baylor, the only one of its kind in north america. with financial backing from nonprofits, including the gates foundation, the doctor and his team are doing what big pharma isn't. >> so what happens in here, doctor? >> so michael, what we are doing is we are making vaccines. >> so far, they have made six. they are still in the testing phase, but showing promise. but hotas says it's a fight to get the word out about these chronic and debilitating diseases. >> most people don't know that they are living on the front-lines of this? >> yes, the level of awareness of the anythinged tropical diseases, among the people, and the physicians are is close to
zero. >> the effects of these tropical diseases go beyond the physical. there's a huge social cost as well. >> but they cause poverty. they make people too sick to go to work. >> and there's this. they shave i.q. points off of kids and they reduce intelligence and cognitive abilities. >> and no one is the wiser. >> most doctors doppler radar screen for neglect -- don't screen for neglected tropical diseases. most patients die, never knowing why. you could say that candice is among the lucky ones. >> if chaggis is going to affect my hart, i want to know. i don't want it just to sneak up on me and i die from a heart attack and not have plans for my children. i have already increased my life insurance because i don't know when it's going to happen.
>> for candace, having an exotic disease has not gone over well in her small south texas town. were you afraid of telling people? >> yes, i was. as a matter of fact, i told a very, very close friend of mine and he told me, that this is a small town and people don't know what chaggis and that if i told anybody, that i'm libel to get a brick thrown right through my window. >> so there is a real social stigma to have this. >> yes. it's one of the classic features of all of the neglected tropical diseases, that they cause social stigma. so particularly for girls and women. chaggis is not transmitted person to person. >> that's something that candace stark hopes her neighbors here when they see this storey. >> it's time that my town and everybody else knows about it. >> why? >> because i'm concerned. my biggest concern is that they do not test all the blood that is donated. they do not test it.
i just happened to be one that did get tested. i was one of the lucky ones. >> an innocent victim finally sounding the alarm so that more unsuspecting people don't die. michael oku, al jazeera, houston. next, from the front-lines, a toxic cocktail spreads its deadly reach across the midwest. america tonight's sarah hoye on the one-woman campaign to stop it. later, looking behind the lens into private lives you have never seen on screen before. we'll meet the image master. and hot on america tonight's website now, coal country catholics. can the pope's environmental message convert them? at aljazeera.com/americatonight. >> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts,
>> in our fast forward segment, a new harm about a danger on streets. this time it is chicago. seeing a sharp urge in death, the cause heroin, but first responders suspect it is a heroin spiked with a killer narcotic called fenn at -- phentonyl. >> this symbolizes philadelphia. the avenue was once a thriving shopping district. it's now an eye sore. abaponed buildings factor factors and row houses attracting heroin pushers and users. it's a neighborhood where the people have been forgotten and
where the forgotten go to forget. >> this is the part that people choose to turn their head away from, turn a blind's eye as my mom would say. >> one woman not turning a blind eye was carol. she lives in a philadelphia suburb. carol knows all too well the pain of addiction. her 25-year-old son drew used to live on the kensington streets when heroin took over his life. >> my son said he knew that the first time he took heroin he was hooked. i guess it's like a euphoria. >> across the country heroin use is up. in 2016, more than 8,000 people died. many seeking a cheaper high used a heroin laced with a potent ingredient. we went to the temple school of medicine where we met the director of the center for substance
abuse research. according to the d.e.a., it's cut with phentynol. and to street very severe pain associated with cancer. >> so why phennynol. >> it gets into the brain very, very rapidly but it's so potent that very small quantities are needed to produce same high. >> and how much more potent would it be? >> so it's on the order of 20 times pore potent than heroin. >> in philadelphia last year, phentonol. people believe the deadly cocktail was most likely sold along kensington avenue. when you hear an uptick in deaths or they are cutting heroin with this phontonyl it's deadly.
>> and it's very scary, because i have grown to love a lot of these people down here. >> it's this fear that keeps carol submitted to leading those who live in darkness into the light. fast forward to what chicago is seeing now. for the second time this year, authorities there have issued a street alert after more than 20 people o.d.ed in just 24 hours. they do suspect that phentonyl they do suspect that phentonyl was behind this spike in deaths. >> next, warhol, lennon, ohno, jagger, a rare look inside the lives of some of the world's most private figures. and a failing grade? next week on "america tonight" the ambitious project to save schools in newark, new jersey. facebook gave it a $100 million like or is that enough? we go inside next week on america tonight.
>> expect one of the big releases this to be "the martian" it's the story of an alien or near alien on the big screen. our look at an outsider's view of an insider's world also travels in time, but he recorded all the stars he encountered on film. america tonight's adam may now on the rebel with a camera. >> is that andy warhol right there? >> yes. a typical andy, john lennon, yoko ono party of that period, where all the different artists
come together at some place. >> you may have never heard of him, but in the 1950s and '60s, jonas mekkas new and filmed just about everybody who was anybody in new york's art world. >> do you like the work that focuses on some of these celebrities of the era or do you like the work of the -- >> they were to me not celebrities. they were my friends. >> a pioneer in the art of cinema verta. he became famous for films that captured the era's cultural scenes. it was up close and personal relationships with miles davis and john lennon and yoko ono and mick jagger and his daughter jade. ♪ he caught with his camera the unguarded moments in their daily lives.
>> that's it, john. roll. roll with it! >> you came to become friends with many famous people through the course of being an artist. how did everybody kind of gravitate towards each other. we are people feeding off of each other's creativetivity back then? >> there was in the '60s much more getting together, in between different artists and between musicians, photographers, poets, filmmakers. you could find them all in the same places. be it the cafe or you see the bar or some music places. that was like on the stale of of -- tail of change and exchanging of ideas. we don't have that today. >> film critics have called you the godfather of avant-garde film. what do you think about these type of comments made about your film career.
>> it's not up to me to evaluate my contribution. >> all i can say is that i have been very busy. if i see that something has to be done, then i have to do it. >> what are we watching here right now? >> this is your film that you took. >> this is my footage, my film. >> i first met yoko ono in 1961. so we have been old friends already when this took place, i knew her for ten years already. and when yoko ono decided to settle down in new york, i sponsored her arrival in new york. >> are you no, no, no, nostalgic for this lifestyle and this era. >> no, i don't have any
nostalgia. i want to keep everything where it is. everybody keeps moving and i'm moving with it. i'm too businessy to look back. >> now at 92, mekus is the self-appointed keeper of the avant-garde film. >> there is the anthology film archives, the home of the independent and avant-garde cinema. the greatest selection in the world of their independent avant-garde cinema is here. >> he's selected 35,000 films in his archives and is now busy trying to raise $6 million to expand the archives to include other avant-garde art forms. >> this year, and next year, i'm building another floor on top of it for the largest
selection library of books and periodicals on cinema in the united states and in the world. >> mekus began his life far from the art world of new york. >> i was born on a small farm in lithuania. i was in a german forced labor camp and since i was very active, i was involved in the underground activities. i know that i was -- my life would not -- i would not have survived very long in the soviet occupation. >> after the war, the 27-year-old mekus and his brother adolphus initially there thought they would go to the newly established country of israel and start a film company. >> when we went to the embassy, to the consulate, they said, no. there is no visa for lithuanians.
are you jews in no. no. we are lithuanians but we want to go to israel to start film industry. >> the exiles ended up in new york city instead. >> five years of displaced prisoner camps and forced labor camps. we were craving for -- for culture, for -- we were like compliant for anything in a normal civilization, a normal culture. >> mekus says despite the conflict he witnessed in his early years, he had no desire to record conflict with his camera. >> as an artist, do you feel like you somehow tried to contribute to this conversation or is your art an escape? >> in my films, you won't find people arguing or -- i don't film disasters, horror. i leave that to others.
i want to celebrate with my camera, what i see beautiful and what contributes to the happiness of my friends and humanity. happiness is real. it's not abstract. >> the result is a life long visual diary. shot mostly in new york city, and on long island. much of it edited right in the camera. >> is there a rhyme or reason to the way that they go to go or sometimes does it accidentally just come together? >> many people in my footage, we see them born. you see them live, and then they disappear, generation after several generations. i just take that footage together. it's just chapters in a huge epic novel. and it goes and goes and goes. >> mekus is also a poet, a writer, and a
musician. ♪ >> everywhere in his home is a project in motion. >> these are your diaries. >> these are my diaries. >> is it true that you did dance fred astaire? >> yes, that's the first story in it. >> currently he has a show? in venice italy, at a burger king as a critique of the more elitist art world. he shot this film in 2007, one every day of the year. mekus took us on a little walk down memory lane, a tour of his new york, his video camera firmly in hand. >> when you take film a nower in new york, there -- flower in new york, there's always a sound track of the city behind it. >> what was this like in the '60s? what was the feeling here?
>> it was very much really a jewish market. it was door after door, this kind of little knickknacks and socks and shoes and the whole street. >> mekus now finds much of new york has become boring. the shops are cookie cutter, he says, and neighborhoods have lost their flavor. but his love affair with the city and its inhabitants is far from over. >> that's new york! that's what i love. >> adam may, al jazeera, new york. even today, he remains an artist, shooting stars. that's "america tonight" please tell us what you think at aljazeera.com/americatonight. talk to us on twitter or facebook and come back. we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow.
>> an air strike on an afghan hospital kills aid workers, the u.s. military may be responsible. hello. you are with al jazeera live from doha. also to come on the program -- >> an attempt by russia and iran to prop up assad. >> barack obama says russian air strikes in syria are a recipe for disaster and calls for a political solution. and a frantic search for